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Canadian Grandparents: Older, More Multicultural, with Fewer Grandchildren to Spoil

As of 2017, there were over seven million grandparents in Canada, aged 45 years and older. Two years later, that group is continuing to grow and evolve.

Statistics Canada (StatCan) began a Family Matters series of reports in early February 2019, in which they focus on the most recent data from the General Social Survey on Families. The data from this survey build on existing data on families, chronicling how they evolve as the population ages and as family structures continue to be affected by social, cultural and economic factors.

StatCan released a new report on grandparents in Canada in early February that showed that the overall number of grandparents has grown, but there are fewer young grandparents than in the past: the population share of grandparents 45 years of age and older decreased from 57% in 1995 to 47% in 2017, while the population share of grandparents 85 years of age and older increased from 3% to 8% between 1995 and 2017. The average age of first-time grandparents is now 51 years for women and 54 years for men; women are having children later in life, thus delaying the age at which their parents become grandparents.

Grandparents of today also have fewer grandchildren to spoil than in years past. The number of grand children per grandparent is down to four, as of 2017, compared with five in 1995. Grandchildren might see this as a positive thing — fewer people to share attention with!

A small percentage of grandparents live with at least one grandchild (about 5%), and this number has remained fairly constant. There are many factors that contribute to such a decision, such as cultural and economic factors and personal circumstances. In 2017 a greater proportion of foreign-born grandparents (9%) than Canadian-born ones (4%) lived with at least one grandchild.

StatCan’s Family Matters series will continue to give updated perspectives on the diversity of families in Canada. An infographic from StatCan summarizes the current data on Canadian grandparents.

To read StatCan’s full Family Matters piece on Canadian grandparents, click here.

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